Legislation Would Enhance Penalties for Harassment of a Sports Official

By John Forester | December 11, 2019

A bipartisan bill (LRB-4781) that will enhance the penalties for those who harass sports officials is currently circulating for co-sponsorship inside the State Capitol.  The authors indicate they are bringing this bill forward because high school sports officials are quitting in large numbers and youth sports programs are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain officials due to unruly and verbally abusive fans.  The bill is being introduced at the request of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Below are some staggering statistics courtesy of NASO:

-24 States have Assault Legislation, Civil Statues and/or Supportive Resolutions protecting and supporting sports officials. Wisconsin is not among them.

-The average age of sports officials across the country is 53 years old.

-Nearly 48% of male officials have felt unsafe or feared for their safety in connection to officiating.

-Nearly 45% of female officials have felt unsafe or feared for their safety in connection to officiating.

-57% of sports officials believe that sportsmanship is getting worse. Youth, adult recreation and high school levels are identified as the worst sportsmanship levels.

-Parents (40%), coaches (30%) and fans (18%) cause the most sportsmanship problems.

-43% of officials and officiating leaders cite that most new officials quit within the first 1-3 years.

-13% of officials have been assaulted by either a fan, coach or player.

-The average starting age for a sports official is now 40-45 years old. Thirty years ago, the average starting age for a sports official was 20-25 years old.

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State of the State Address, January 22nd

By John Forester | December 11, 2019

From The Wheeler Report . . .

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has sent a letter to Governor Evers saying he is offering an invitation to deliver the State of the State address to a joint session of the Wisconsin Legislature on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 in the Assembly Chambers.

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Pope and Others Propose Voucher Accountability Package

By John Forester | December 11, 2019

From The Wheeler Report . . .

Reps. Sondy Pope and Dave Considine and Sens. Jon Erpenbach and Janet Bewley are circulating four bills as part of their “Voucher School Accountability to Protect Property Taxpayers” package.

LRB-4156 Memo Special Needs Scholarships (Pope, Sondy) Phasing out the Special Needs Scholarship Program and limiting enrollment in parental choice programs.

LRB-4164 Memo Teacher Licensure (Pope, Sondy) Teacher licensure in parental choice programs and in the Special Needs Scholarship Program and granting rule-making authority.

LRB-3674 Memo School Aid (Bewley, Janet) State aid to the resident school district of a pupil attending a private school under the Racine or statewide parental choice program.

LRB-5044 Memo Per Pupil Payments (Erpenbach, Jon) Per pupil payments to private schools participating in parental choice programs.

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SAA Legislative Committee Expresses Concerns About Return to Work Bill

By John Forester | December 5, 2019

At the SAA Legislative Committee meeting held on November 25th, Committee members discussed the merits of WRS annuitant return to work legislation for more than an hour.  The legislation, authored by Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), was circulating for co-sponsorship inside the State Capitol at the time of the Committee meeting.  The proposal has the support of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB).  If adopted, the legislation would:

During the lengthy and spirited Committee discussion, members expressed strong support for rolling back the provisions of the current return to work law to allow retired teachers, administrators and staff to return to WRS-covered employment without restrictions in order to fill critical positions in school districts throughout Wisconsin.

However, Committee members also expressed the following concerns or reservations about the proposed legislation:

At the conclusion of the Committee discussion, members were asked, “If the objective is to improve our ability to recruit and retain quality teachers, administrators and staff to fill critical positions, on balance does this proposal help us do that or not?”  The clear consensus of the Committee was that the proposal does not help us with that objective.

See the bill draft here.

If you should have any comments or questions on this important policy issue, please contact me at the SAA.  Thanks for listening and, as always, thanks for everything you do on behalf of the children you serve.

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Arrowhead High School On Good Morning America

By John Forester | November 26, 2019

Check out Arrowhead High School Principal Gregg Wieczorek on Good Morning America this morning discussing Arrowhead’s student-to-student vaping prevention efforts.  You might recall that Gregg delivered fabulous testimony earlier this month at the public hearing on the Tobacco 21 legislation.  Awesome job Gregg!!

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LFB Releases General School Aid Publication

By John Forester | November 26, 2019

From The Wheeler Report:

Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released the 2019-20 General School Aid Amounts.  According to the memo, for the 2019-20 school year, 399 of the 421 school districts are eligible for $4,687.7 million in equalized aid, 25 districts are eligible for $46.7 million in integration aid, and 61 districts are eligible for $5.7 million in special adjustment aid. Compared to the prior year, 345 districts will receive positive prior year aid adjustments, 20 districts will receive negative prior year aid adjustments, and 55 districts will receive no prior year aid adjustment. In 2019-20, over $16.8 million will be appropriated for high poverty aid from the general fund.

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DPI Releases Data on Temporary Licenses

By John Forester | November 26, 2019

From WisPolitics.com …

The number of teachers working with temporary licenses in the state has nearly tripled in the last six years.

The Department of Public Instruction emergency license data released yesterday shows 2,863 teachers received a license with stipulations for the 2018-19 school year, a 180 percent increase from the 1,021 licenses administered in 2012-13.

Since no organization keeps records on the number of open positions in all 421 public school districts, DPI considers emergency license data to be one of the best measures for the depth of the state’s teacher labor shortage.

A license with stipulations is a temporary permit for an individual to teach in the state with the promise to pursue a full educator’s license in the future. The most common license is for one year, but there is also a three-year option.

DPI’s website states it hands out one-year licenses to teachers with a bachelor’s degree or an out-of-state license who haven’t yet become fully licensed in the state. The organization also administers them to individuals with a bachelor’s degree “when a district cannot find a fully licensed educator.”

A license with stipulations has no requirement for a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

The number of licenses with stipulations has risen every cycle since 2012-13 except for a slight dip from 2,435 to 2,432 licenses between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Special education by-far made up the largest category of permits. There were 1,010 special education licenses with stipulations in 2018-19, an increase of 305 licenses from the previous year. Regular education was the second-highest category, with DPI handing out 315 permits in 2018-19.

See more here.

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Evers Signs SAA-Supported Bills Into Law

By John Forester | November 22, 2019

At a bill-signing ceremony in the State Capitol yesterday, Governor Tony Evers signed the following SAA-supported bills into law:

AB-054 School Drills (Born, Mark) Fire, tornado, and school safety drills for public and private schools. Signed (Act 39)

AB-195 Reciprocity Licenses (Tranel, Travis) A license to teach based on reciprocity and granting rule-making authority. Signed (Act 43)

AB-194 Special Ed Licenses (Tranel, Travis) Requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher. Signed (Act 44)

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Continuous Advocacy: School District of Whitefish Bay

By John Forester | November 20, 2019

Remember after Governor Evers signed the 2019-21 State Budget on July 3rd how Republican and Democratic legislators battled for weeks to characterize the budget in the press and with the public as either “good” for public schools or “woefully inadequate”.

What we found is that neither these partisan characterizations nor the analyses of the budget’s impact on Wisconsin school districts produced by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) or the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) can never tell the full story for every school district.  Developing that “full story” for every district’s unique circumstances is the responsibility of local school leaders.

Back in July, the SAA issued the following suggestion to all school district administrators and business officials:  “Engage your district administrative team and collaboratively develop your district’s analysis of 1) what this budget means for educational opportunities for the students you serve, and 2) the unmet needs from this budget and the ongoing challenges that remain.  Then use this information to educate your legislators, your staff, your board and your community.”

Late last week I received a document from the School District of Whitefish Bay that details the impact of the 2019-21 Wisconsin State Budget on the district and its students.  I urge you to check it out (see link below).  Hats off to Superintendent John Thomsen and his team at Whitefish Bay!

If your district has developed a similar document or template with which to educate your legislators and your community, please send it to the SAA.  We’ll post it so SAA members can share and learn together on how we can effectively advocate for the kids we serve.

Whitefish Bay School District Document

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WPF Highlights ESSA School Spending Reporting

By John Forester | November 20, 2019

In it’s latest issue of FOCUS, the Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) highlights the ESSA requirement that school districts report actual per-pupil expenditures by school and funding source.

The SAA believes this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this publication with the permission of WPF.

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